by J.D. Heyes
December 18, 2012
For years, global warming advocates have
argued that implementing some sort of carbon tax would substantially
reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by
the heavily industrialized United States.
The idea, they say, is that a carbon tax would ultimately lead to
fewer harmful, climate-changing emissions because of the higher cost
associated with creating them in the first place.
The tax would
provide an additional incentive to conserve energy.
But climate researcher Paul Knappenberger, in a
paper published in November, said,
even if the U.S. parked every plane, train and automobile, and
shuttered every factory, the impact on global carbon emissions would
amount to little or nothing - making the imposition of a carbon tax
global climate change 'negligible'
"Using assumptions based on the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment
Reports, if the U.S. as a whole stopped emitting all carbon
dioxide (CO2) emissions immediately, the ultimate
impact on projected global temperature rise would be a
reduction, or a 'savings,' of approximately 0.08°C by the year
2050 and 0.17°C by the year 2100 - amounts that are, for all
intents and purposes, negligible," he concluded in his report
for the Science and Public Policy Institute.
"The impact of a complete and immediate cessation of all CO2
emissions from the U.S. on projections of future sea level rise
would be similarly small - a reduction of the projected sea
level rise of only 0.6 cm by 2050 and 1.8 cm (less than one
inch) by the year 2100," the report continued, adding that any
reductions in U.S. emissions are now - and would continue to be
- subsumed by emissions from other developing countries (China
and India come immediately to mind).
So why are some U.S. politicians and the
Obama administration still pushing for it?
Answer: Because they have spent our
nation into oblivion and the carbon tax is nothing more than the
latest revenue scheme.
"Massive increases in federal
spending over the past 10 years have created a $16 trillion
deficit. Now policymakers in Washington are looking for 'new
revenue' to reduce the deficit," writes Thomas Pyle, president
of the Institute for Energy Research, in U.S. News & World
"One idea that crops up from time to
time is some form of a tax on energy. In the past it was a BTU
tax, cap-and-trade, and now a 'carbon tax.'"
"To put it mildly, a carbon tax is a terrible idea," he says.
The reason why, he says, is because a
carbon tax is a levy placed on every use of oil, coal and natural
gas - the three primary elements we use to power our economy.
"More than 82 percent of total U.S.
energy consumption comes from these sources," Pyle writes, "and
more than 92 percent of our transportation fuel comes from
Like most taxes, a carbon tax would be
punitive and hit working poor and middle class families the hardest.
Another argument is that a carbon tax would make our tax code much
more efficient. These proponents say the income tax system is too
inefficient because not everyone even pays income taxes, so
exchanging part of the income tax with a carbon tax would close that
Pyle calls that argument,
"ignorant of the real world
economics of a carbon tax."
Read my lips -
No new carbon taxes
"The best literature on the carbon
tax argues that a revenue-neutral carbon tax swap actually makes
the tax code more inefficient and would hinder economic growth.
In the end, a carbon tax has a smaller base than an income tax
and is therefore more distortionary," he writes.
Still, other advocates of a carbon tax
say it would not impose a big burden on the economy because it would
begin low and remain low.
But that's the same argument used by
advocates of an income tax in 1913.
When it was first implemented, the top
tax rate was seven percent; today it is nearly 40 percent and a
number of lawmakers, as well as the president, would love to take it
No matter what your position is on the issue of global warming, it
seems clear that a carbon tax won't do anything to reduce emissions,
but will instead impose more costs on the nation's already embattled
energy sector, as well as those in our society who are least able to